From: Michael S. Lorrey <email@example.com>
Sent: Monday, June 07, 1999 10:29 am
Subject: Re: racism pollutes the extropian list
> Carl Sagan observed that astronomy emerged out of astrology.
This is one of my interests, how science evolves from nonscience.
Astronomy evolved out of astrology. Chemistry evolved out of alchemy. Cryptography evolved out of Numerology. Our understanding in each are of science has evolved so far, that earlier understanding in each field are today dismissed as ludicrous.
Dr. John Dee was an Elizabethan magician and astrologer. He developed the method of astronavigation that allowed the British navy to go beyond the horizon, consult the stars, travel out of sight of land, and then suddenly pop into view of the exact shore they desired. At the time, this seemed magical.
He also used numerology to find hidden meanings in ancient Kabalistic texts and in the Bible. He used similar methods to develop uncrackable (for their day) codes to encrypt military messages.
The great scientists we read about were not as scientifically rational as we like to think today. Most books about them selectively edit their work to only show the scientifically useful portions, while neglecting to mention the others.
What I wonder about is this: Did John Dee really believe in astrology? Did he predict events with astrology with the same mathematical precision that he calculated global positioning? How can we separate one part of his work as brilliant and another part of his work as bogus, especially when he himself did not seem to make that distinction?
This kind of stuff also keeps me from getting too dogmatic in any field I am in. My belief systems are fluid and must adapt to new information. No system is perfect and pure, without contamination from preconceived ideas. Many of the old beliefs may have been poorly expressed explanations consistent with our understanding at the time.